Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made this remark during the First Year Ministerial Review Retreat at the State House Banquet Hall in Abuja, the nation’s capital,which he declared open on Monday.
He represented President Muhammadu Buhari who attended the ECOWAS summit in the Niger Republic.
In attendance are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, all ministers, the head of the civil service, permanent secretaries and other top government functionaries
The retreat is meant to create transparency on the status of the implementation of policies programs and projects of government and provide a roadmap towards the delivery of the nine priority agenda during the first year of the second term of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Speaking on behalf of President Muhammad Buhari,he stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in trying times, not just for the Nigerian people, but also for the government.
The Vice President also said that the country’s revenues and foreign exchange earnings have fallen by almost 60 percent since the pandemic took hold.
“For the government, it has been a particularly trying time,” Buhari said. “As a result of the poor fortunes of the oil sector, our revenues and foreign exchange earnings have fallen drastically. Our revenues have fallen by almost 60 percent.
“Yet we have had to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects, in order to keep the economy going.”
The pandemic forced many economies across the world to shut down, drastically reducing the demand for crude oil, Nigeria’s main export foreign exchange earner.
The Vice President said that the Buhari administration adopted a N2.3 trillion economic sustainability plan to mitigate the effect of the economic slowdown.
The plan, which consists of fiscal, monetary, and sectoral measures, is expected “to enhance local production, support businesses, retain and create jobs and provide succor to Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable.”
“But we have also had to take some difficult decisions to stop unsustainable practices that were weighing the economy down,” he said.
President Buhari’s speech on Monday was delivered amid concerns raised by several groups in the country over increases in the price of fuel and electricity tariffs in the country.
“This government is not insensitive to the condition of our people and the very difficult economic situation and we will not inflict hardship on our people,” the President said.
Buhari directed Ministers and senior administration officials to swiftly implement the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) to give succor to Nigerians.
“In this regard, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has created credit facilities (of up to N100B) for the Healthcare (N100 Billion) and Manufacturing (N1 Trillion) sectors,” Buhari said.
“From January 2020 to date, over N191.87B has already been disbursed for 76 real sectors projects under the N1Trillion Real Sector Scheme; while 34 Healthcare projects have been funded to the tune of N37.159B under the Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility.
“The facilities are meant to address some of the infrastructural gap in the healthcare and manufacturing sector as a fall out to the COVID-19 pandemic and to facilitate the attainment of the Governors 5-year strategic plan.”
The ongoing retreat will be holding for two days.